Another one of the drafts that I need to edit and finish… Here it is for you now, in the raw
I guess I imagined by now I’d have it all figured out. I thought I’d be like everyone else who grew up with my privileges (white, upper middle class). But instead of living the good life in the suburbs, a big house, pool, multiple cars, and a big, huge savings account, I’m in a modest house in a neighborhood of Chicago just trying to make ends meet.
Not that I don’t like my life. I honestly wouldn’t change it. I cannot tolerate the suburbs and the big houses and yards (I think I have the opposite of agoraphobia – fear of open spaces) and I crave MORE simplicity in life, not more stuff.
Still, life is… well… not easy.
I quit my job several years ago because work-life balance forced me to chose. That’s what happens when both work and home life are too stressful.
So now we subsist on my husbands modest income. Since he lost his full-time job 8 years ago he has been working two part time jobs. No paid time off. No benefits. I had both and probably should have kept my job. But I tell you… I was at the breaking point. Something had to give and I chose that to be the job.
Now, living near the poverty level has it’s benefits. We used to qualify for medicaid and food stamps (aka Snap). When you’re on a very limited income, food stamps help immensely. Without food stamps, we would have been living on ramen noodles and the canned goods you get from the food bank. And medicaid is nothing less than a life saver. Literally. Considering I have hypertension and my husband has carotid artery disease, I think you can figure out why I say this.
For five years our home was in foreclosure. For three of those years we had two incomes but still could not afford our previous mortgage (and the penalties the mortgage company tried to put on us). It was sheer luck and a shit-ton of persistence that allowed us to save our home from auction (three separate times) and eventually modify our mortgage. During that time we were SURE we would eventually lose our home. And, being that we had no extra income, we did not keep up on repairs.
I feel like people take upkeep for granted. When you’re living paycheck to paycheck, you don’t call a plumber. Or an electrician. Or a roofer. I am the handyman. I fix everything with duct tape, crazy glue, and toothpicks. Once in a while I have to buy a special part online, but otherwise these items suit my needs quite well. Our shower sports three different my colors of duct tape. Our upstairs toilet is held together with paper clips. Our back door only closes because I replace the rubber band that replaced the spring that sits inside a cartridge within the door.One sink has no cold water and the other has no hot water. We have outlets that don’t work. And light bulbs that need to be changed (when you’re limited on funds even light bulbs are a luxury).
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